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The IMBM Intro (Section 1)
Written by:
Emily Plazek
The first "Indie Music Business Model" of its kind.

Welcome to the IMBM.

The IMBM (Indie Music Business Model) is simply a new way of seeing your music career. After reading and studying the 8 Section articles that summarize the entire Pyramid, your brain will be trained to go after effective strategies. Your mind will be your ally, not your predator. You’ll learn that less is more, and that this is a real possibility for your life depending on how you approach it.

We’ll squeeze in the equivalent of the college education you need through the concepts we sprinkle throughout, and remind you that you’re just as deserving and capable of an indie music career as the next person. The IMBM is your little buddy, and you can read here for more on how the IMBM will help you in ways like this.

This IMBM version is for Front-Line musicians (bands, artists, rappers, singer/songwriters), and in the future we’ll share variations on the Pyramid for other types of indie musicians like “Behind-the-Scenes” beatmakers, composers, and for-hire instrumentalists who don’t need to worry about “fans” in the same way. (Sidenote: I hope one of my composers picks up what I’m putting down and runs with “Variations on the Pyramid” to write a classical orchestral IMBM theme for us.)

The name of the music-career game is “KISS”, or “Keep It Simple, Stupid,” and choosing Home Run (HR) strategies through the 80/20 “Critical Few” Rule

Some of our indie musicians - FM Snö and Catherine Gee, along with Amir Miles

If you need more context before we begin…

If you don’t know what an indie musician is, or you’re unaware of the current music industry climate, read this. If you want to understand how the IMBM is getting released 8 sections in 8 weeks, or what The MVMT is, read this. If you want examples of successful artists that use the IMBM, see the VIP members of The MVMT here.

If you’re ready to hit the play button on this IMBM experience, read on.

Let’s begin: How do I use the IMBM?

Step 1) Acquire pen, find paper, draw yourself a Pyramid.

Step 2) At the top, write what your Definition of Success looks like to you right now. This usually includes 3 components: Fun, Fulfillment, and Financial.

Step 3) Go through and read the articles in each of the IMBM sections at the Sanctuary blog. Each section has 1 synopsis article (“Section #”), and extra interviews and fun anecdotal pieces to help you grasp the highlights you need -- we’ll be releasing those over the 8 weeks.

Here are the Sections, in order:

  • Product Development Laneway
  • Business Basics Laneway
  • Level 1: Fans
  • Level 1: Money
  • Level 2: Fans
  • Level 2: Money
  • Level 3: Definition of Success

First, prepare your Product Development and Business Basics (the two laneways you’ll always be chipping away at).

Next, start your climb up 3 levels that balance activities for gaining Fans (right side) and earning Money (left side). Fans and Money are the two factors in your music career’s progress, and we gamified it with 3 levels like a video game to help you envision how cool your career is.

Step 4) Along the way, pick activities that (1) you want and (2) have big bang for their buck (that 80/20 Rule we mentioned earlier, we’ll get back to it) in each section’s categories, and write them into your Pyramid. Some categories will only have one thing, some will have way more -- just make sure each base is covered so the whole Pyramid is balanced.

Step 5) As you progress in your career, redraw the Pyramid and re-write that definition at the top.  

A look back at our intern teams throughout the years while developing the IMBM.

What if I don’t like some of those activities?

Don’t worry about trying to do everything possible -- it’s better to do a small handful of things very well, than to half-ass the attempt to do a crap ton of things. We only have so much time, energy, and money.

Just be yourself and do the activities you really want to, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone just enough to make sure the Pyramid balances. As for the things you don’t “want” to do but actually do need to, like filing taxes, the IMBM will show you the simplified way to do it, and you can build a team to back you up.

‍The IMBM team filming a scene for one of the IMBM videos, coming up in week 6.

Let’s get into the questions you may have:

Why the IMBM instead of signing to a Record Label?

The IMBM (Indie Music Business Model) deconstructed and reconstructed the entire music industry as it applies to indie musicians. Musicians usually sign to labels because of asymmetrical information: they don’t understand what to do in the industry, but record labels do. Record labels dangle this advantage over musicians, leveraging relationships that often favor the label -- convincing the artists they need the label to have any shot for success.

Yet, almost all of the functions that labels perform are now replicable by independent artists due to the power of the internet and less expensive technology -- so it’s not always necessary for indie artists to sign over their song rights and sign onto financially risky deals with labels.

One more note though: We’re not in the game of hating on all labels -- some labels rock! Being indie means you (1) preserve your power to own your rights, (2) aren’t leveraged into financially risky contracts, and (3) have all decision-making power in your hands -- so you’re not subject to doing things you might not want to that a label would force you to do. However, sometimes labels can do a better job on a mass scale than you could on your own (think Top 40 radio placement or world touring - See Level 2 - Fans), so oftentimes it makes sense for indies to collaborate with labels (i.e. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis). 

Why is the IMBM the “world’s first”? What makes it different?

MIC spent 8 years doing the research most indie musicians don’t know how to do -- or don’t happen to have 8 years of extra free time to spend doing. A lot of indie musicians go miles down their career paths without realizing they missed a chunk of the industry, like sync licensing (getting your music placed in TV shows, commercials, movies). Panic ensues, because “what else are we missing?” and “crap, this is complicated, boring, confusing, and I don’t want to learn about it.” Hence why MIC made the IMBM-- so indie musicians wouldn’t miss a piece of the puzzle that they need to connect the big career picture (hence our name, Music Industry Connected). We also wanted to make it a tad more fun.

The MIC team seeing one of our own indie musicians live at Mr. Smalls - Catherine Gee of CoBoss

The IMBM’s biggest feat was cutting down the plethora of information about the music industry into only the stuff that’s important for indie musicians. We figured out hacks and shortcuts for some of the harder parts that you actually need (but maybe were intimidated by?), and we continue this research in real-time to keep the Pyramid relevant. (... because, hey, something like SoundCloud might be gone in the next couple years, who knows?)  

We’re indie musicians living through these struggles in the now, collaborating and testing out what the most efficient and effective strategies are.

Most importantly, the IMBM does not jump to conclusions or tell you what you should/shouldn’t do. The #1 advantage to being indie is that you’re independent. (Duh.) You’re free to do whatever you want! For that reason, nowhere in the Pyramid will you find it telling you “you should do shows” or “you shouldn’t write music like this,” yadda yadda. That completely defeats the purpose of being indie and, therefore, free.

That’s why MIC & the IMBM are different. You won’t find this kind of open-minded, non-judgemental environment in all the other “how to be an indie musician” materials out there. We work every day to keep our energy high and strong, in order to let it seep into our Pyramid research and into our musicians -- because we’re dedicated to our indie music mission.

The MIC team comes together in the spirit of the MIC mission and vision to help indie musicians.

Oh, what is that mission, you ask?

The Mission: 

Educate and give hope to indie musicians so they don’t give up on their music career dreams, no matter their label-signed status or location (you don’t need to be in a hub-city like LA, NYC, or Nashville).

The Vision: 

Successful indie musicians are the norm, not the outlier.

Read on to the First Laneway, Product Development.

Or read more introductions to the IMBM here!

The IMBM Intro (Section 1)
The IMBM Intro (Section 1)
MIC is my baby.
The first "Indie Music Business Model" of its kind.

Welcome to the IMBM.

The IMBM (Indie Music Business Model) is simply a new way of seeing your music career. After reading and studying the 8 Section articles that summarize the entire Pyramid, your brain will be trained to go after effective strategies. Your mind will be your ally, not your predator. You’ll learn that less is more, and that this is a real possibility for your life depending on how you approach it.

We’ll squeeze in the equivalent of the college education you need through the concepts we sprinkle throughout, and remind you that you’re just as deserving and capable of an indie music career as the next person. The IMBM is your little buddy, and you can read here for more on how the IMBM will help you in ways like this.

This IMBM version is for Front-Line musicians (bands, artists, rappers, singer/songwriters), and in the future we’ll share variations on the Pyramid for other types of indie musicians like “Behind-the-Scenes” beatmakers, composers, and for-hire instrumentalists who don’t need to worry about “fans” in the same way. (Sidenote: I hope one of my composers picks up what I’m putting down and runs with “Variations on the Pyramid” to write a classical orchestral IMBM theme for us.)

The name of the music-career game is “KISS”, or “Keep It Simple, Stupid,” and choosing Home Run (HR) strategies through the 80/20 “Critical Few” Rule

Some of our indie musicians - FM Snö and Catherine Gee, along with Amir Miles

If you need more context before we begin…

If you don’t know what an indie musician is, or you’re unaware of the current music industry climate, read this. If you want to understand how the IMBM is getting released 8 sections in 8 weeks, or what The MVMT is, read this. If you want examples of successful artists that use the IMBM, see the VIP members of The MVMT here.

If you’re ready to hit the play button on this IMBM experience, read on.

Let’s begin: How do I use the IMBM?

Step 1) Acquire pen, find paper, draw yourself a Pyramid.

Step 2) At the top, write what your Definition of Success looks like to you right now. This usually includes 3 components: Fun, Fulfillment, and Financial.

Step 3) Go through and read the articles in each of the IMBM sections at the Sanctuary blog. Each section has 1 synopsis article (“Section #”), and extra interviews and fun anecdotal pieces to help you grasp the highlights you need -- we’ll be releasing those over the 8 weeks.

Here are the Sections, in order:

  • Product Development Laneway
  • Business Basics Laneway
  • Level 1: Fans
  • Level 1: Money
  • Level 2: Fans
  • Level 2: Money
  • Level 3: Definition of Success

First, prepare your Product Development and Business Basics (the two laneways you’ll always be chipping away at).

Next, start your climb up 3 levels that balance activities for gaining Fans (right side) and earning Money (left side). Fans and Money are the two factors in your music career’s progress, and we gamified it with 3 levels like a video game to help you envision how cool your career is.

Step 4) Along the way, pick activities that (1) you want and (2) have big bang for their buck (that 80/20 Rule we mentioned earlier, we’ll get back to it) in each section’s categories, and write them into your Pyramid. Some categories will only have one thing, some will have way more -- just make sure each base is covered so the whole Pyramid is balanced.

Step 5) As you progress in your career, redraw the Pyramid and re-write that definition at the top.  

A look back at our intern teams throughout the years while developing the IMBM.

What if I don’t like some of those activities?

Don’t worry about trying to do everything possible -- it’s better to do a small handful of things very well, than to half-ass the attempt to do a crap ton of things. We only have so much time, energy, and money.

Just be yourself and do the activities you really want to, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone just enough to make sure the Pyramid balances. As for the things you don’t “want” to do but actually do need to, like filing taxes, the IMBM will show you the simplified way to do it, and you can build a team to back you up.

‍The IMBM team filming a scene for one of the IMBM videos, coming up in week 6.

Let’s get into the questions you may have:

Why the IMBM instead of signing to a Record Label?

The IMBM (Indie Music Business Model) deconstructed and reconstructed the entire music industry as it applies to indie musicians. Musicians usually sign to labels because of asymmetrical information: they don’t understand what to do in the industry, but record labels do. Record labels dangle this advantage over musicians, leveraging relationships that often favor the label -- convincing the artists they need the label to have any shot for success.

Yet, almost all of the functions that labels perform are now replicable by independent artists due to the power of the internet and less expensive technology -- so it’s not always necessary for indie artists to sign over their song rights and sign onto financially risky deals with labels.

One more note though: We’re not in the game of hating on all labels -- some labels rock! Being indie means you (1) preserve your power to own your rights, (2) aren’t leveraged into financially risky contracts, and (3) have all decision-making power in your hands -- so you’re not subject to doing things you might not want to that a label would force you to do. However, sometimes labels can do a better job on a mass scale than you could on your own (think Top 40 radio placement or world touring - See Level 2 - Fans), so oftentimes it makes sense for indies to collaborate with labels (i.e. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis). 

Why is the IMBM the “world’s first”? What makes it different?

MIC spent 8 years doing the research most indie musicians don’t know how to do -- or don’t happen to have 8 years of extra free time to spend doing. A lot of indie musicians go miles down their career paths without realizing they missed a chunk of the industry, like sync licensing (getting your music placed in TV shows, commercials, movies). Panic ensues, because “what else are we missing?” and “crap, this is complicated, boring, confusing, and I don’t want to learn about it.” Hence why MIC made the IMBM-- so indie musicians wouldn’t miss a piece of the puzzle that they need to connect the big career picture (hence our name, Music Industry Connected). We also wanted to make it a tad more fun.

The MIC team seeing one of our own indie musicians live at Mr. Smalls - Catherine Gee of CoBoss

The IMBM’s biggest feat was cutting down the plethora of information about the music industry into only the stuff that’s important for indie musicians. We figured out hacks and shortcuts for some of the harder parts that you actually need (but maybe were intimidated by?), and we continue this research in real-time to keep the Pyramid relevant. (... because, hey, something like SoundCloud might be gone in the next couple years, who knows?)  

We’re indie musicians living through these struggles in the now, collaborating and testing out what the most efficient and effective strategies are.

Most importantly, the IMBM does not jump to conclusions or tell you what you should/shouldn’t do. The #1 advantage to being indie is that you’re independent. (Duh.) You’re free to do whatever you want! For that reason, nowhere in the Pyramid will you find it telling you “you should do shows” or “you shouldn’t write music like this,” yadda yadda. That completely defeats the purpose of being indie and, therefore, free.

That’s why MIC & the IMBM are different. You won’t find this kind of open-minded, non-judgemental environment in all the other “how to be an indie musician” materials out there. We work every day to keep our energy high and strong, in order to let it seep into our Pyramid research and into our musicians -- because we’re dedicated to our indie music mission.

The MIC team comes together in the spirit of the MIC mission and vision to help indie musicians.

Oh, what is that mission, you ask?

The Mission: 

Educate and give hope to indie musicians so they don’t give up on their music career dreams, no matter their label-signed status or location (you don’t need to be in a hub-city like LA, NYC, or Nashville).

The Vision: 

Successful indie musicians are the norm, not the outlier.

Read on to the First Laneway, Product Development.

Or read more introductions to the IMBM here!

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